Rainer Werner Fassbinder Dan Isaac - Essay

Dan Isaac

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Marriage of Maria Braun must be recognized … as a powerful and mordant study of post-war Germany, a portrayal very much in the mood and style of Bertolt Brecht. Concerned with the "economic miracle," as the Germans themselves like to call it, Fassbinder treats a subject that other German filmmakers have studiously avoided.

"Eine schlechte Zeit für Gefuhle"—"a bad time for feelings"—says one character early on, which pretty much sums up the pervasive mood of Fassbinder's icy approach to the miracle of German recovery…. But in The Marriage of Maria Braun Fassbinder has finally found the right subject; the result is a near masterpiece. The marriage referred to in the title is the marriage of modern Germany to economic recovery and the corporate values that accompany it….

The finest touch to this film noir is something that goes on in the background and is left untranslated in the titles: a series of radio broadcasts punctuate particular scenes, commenting on and reflecting the political mood of the period…. In the last scene we hear the sports announcer hysteria of a soccer game between Germany and Hungary, the final sign of a descent into the sterile hell of an economic recovery that leaves Germany unredeemed—at least, in the gospel according to Fassbinder. (p. 46)

Dan Isaac, "The Lincoln Center Film Festival," in Midstream (copyright © 1980 by The Theodor Herzl Foundation, Inc.), Vol. XXVI, No. 4, April, 1980, pp. 45-7.∗